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March 25, 2007

Middletown man leaves legacy of gentility

From: Frederick News Post - Frederick,MD,USA - Mar 25, 2007

By Nancy Hernandez
News-Post Staff

MIDDLETOWN -- Lisl Setzer was apprehensive. She had told her father, Paul, that she was merely getting her hair trimmed. Now she sat waiting for him at the salon with platinum blond layers on top and jet black underneath.
When he arrived, he was quiet. He paid the bill and walked Lisl to the car in silence. After a few moments, he finally offered an opinion.

"He told me I looked like Andy Warhol," said Lisl, 17.

Since her father, a professional artist, admired Warhol's work, Lisl thanked him for the comment.

Her father responded it wasn't a compliment, Lisl laughed. That's how he was -- kind and gentle and a bit of a tease. And he loved his family fiercely.

Lisl's comments were echoed throughout the day as hundreds of people gathered at Middletown United Methodist Church to honor their beloved friend and colleague.

Paul Merritt Setzer II, 63, died March 16.

He taught art at Gallaudet University for 25 years and worked as an illustrator and graphic artist for many publications. He represented the United States as a speed skater in the 1975 Winter Games for the Deaf (now called Deaflympics).

"Paul was an artist, a professor, an athlete," Jeff Lewis, a fellow professor at Gallaudet University said through an interpreter. "But his most valued roles were of husband and father."

The two men frequently rode the MARC train together to the university's Washington campus. They often chatted about their families and sports -- a life-long love of Setzer.

When Lewis coached a youth football team in 2003, he recruited Setzer's son, Eric, to be the kicker. Setzer never missed a game the entire year, Lewis said.

Setzer rarely missed any of Lisl or Eric's sports games in the Middletown Valley Athletic Association for 10 years, according to his wife, Kathleen.

Sometimes he would go directly to the games or practices from the MARC train station, without stopping at home, she said through an interpreter.

"This was Paul's passion. It made his life complete," she wrote.

Setzer's family has set up a memorial fund to benefit MVAA, a nonprofit youth sports program. The money will help pay for American Sign Language interpreters to assist deaf parents as they enroll their children and attend league meetings.

Eric, who is his MVAA soccer team's starting goalkeeper, owes much of his development as a player to his father's guidance and dedication, said Eric's coach, Chris Demas.

All the coaches were acutely aware of Setzer's value to the team, he said. Setzer could read lips and would relay information between the hearing coaches and his deaf son; He helped Eric develop into the team's No. 1 player.

Setzer became a de facto coach, Demas said. He attended every game and most of the practices. At games, he would set up a chair along the sidelines and track player performance. He created a stat sheet for every player that let them know details, such as their assists and goals.

Setzer may have switched his major from math to art in college, but he obviously retained his math skills, Demas said.

"Your dad was wonderful," he said to Eric as he signed the sentiment in ASL.

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